Mary Poppins Tour, with Brown and Lee, Opens in Chicago March 25

News   Mary Poppins Tour, with Brown and Lee, Opens in Chicago March 25
The North American national tour of Mary Poppins officially opens at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre March 25 following previews that began March 11. The Illinois engagement has already been extended through July 12.

Ashley Brown in Mary Poppins.
Ashley Brown in Mary Poppins. Photo by Joan Marcus

Original Broadway stars Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee reprise their roles as Mary Poppins and Bert, respectively. Lee also starred in the London cast of Poppins.

They are joined onstage by Karl Kenzler (Mr. Banks), Megan Osterhaus (Mrs. Banks), Valerie Boyle (Mrs. Brill), Mary Vanarsdel (Bird Woman), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Robertson Ay), Ellen Harvey (Miss Andrew) and Mike O'Carroll (Admiral Boom). Christopher Flaim and Justin Hall alternate in the role of Michael Banks. Abigail Droeger and Aida Neitenbach alternate in the role of Jane Banks.

The ensemble comprises Tia Altinay, Carol Angeli, Gail Bennett, Kiara Bennett, Brandon Bieber, Troy Edward Bowles, Elizabeth Broadhurst, Michael Gerhart, Geoffery Goldberg, Emily Harvey, Tiffany Howard, Kelly Jacobs, Wendy James, Clark Johnsen, Justin Keyes, Brian Letendre, Laird Mackintosh, Vanessa McMahan, Koh Mochizuki, Shua Potter, Dominic Roberts, Nick Sanchez, Q. Smith, Jesse Swimm and Tom Souhrada.

Richard Eyre directs Mary Poppins, which features choreography and co-direction by Matthew Bourne and boasts original songs from the film — with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman — as well as new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Julian Fellowes wrote the book.

The musical also features set and costume design by Bob Crowley, co-choreography by Stephen Mear, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design Steve Canyon Kennedy, orchestrations by William David Brohn, musical direction by Annbritt duChateau and musical supervision by David Caddick. Prior to Mary Poppins, Ashley Brown played Belle in the Broadway company of Beauty and the Beast and was also part of the cast of the tour of Disney's On the Record. Brown received her BFA in musical theatre from Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She has appeared in productions of Candide, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Violet, Sweeney Todd, Meet Me in St. Louis, Guys and Dolls, Side by Side by Sondheim and Crazy for You. Brown is also the recipient of the Laurie Beechman Award.

Gavin Lee created the role of Bert for the London production of Mary Poppins, receiving an Olivier Award nomination for his performance; he was Tony-nominated for his Broadway work. His London theatre credits also include Peggy Sue Got Married, Contact, Oklahoma!, Saturday Night, Crazy for You and Me and My Girl. He was also seen in the films "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Beyond the Sea." Mary Poppins marked his Broadway debut.

After Chicago, the Poppins tour is scheduled to play The State Theatre in Cleveland, The Fox Theatre in St. Louis, The Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas and The Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, with additional cities, venues and dates to be announced.

Ticket for the Chicago run are available at Broadway in Chicago box offices (18 W. Monroe, 24 W. Randolph St. and 151 W. Randolph St.), through the Broadway in Chicago Ticket Line at (312) 902-1400, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers or online at

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Gavin Lee (center) as Bert and the Broadway cast of <i>Mary Poppins</i>.
Gavin Lee (center) as Bert and the Broadway cast of Mary Poppins. Photo by Joan Marcus
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